O’Donnell determined to impress Town boss Still

Hatters winger JJ O’Donnell was charged with playing a leading role as Town won the Beds Premier Cup with a penalty shootout victory over Biggleswade Town on Monday, writes Mike Simmonds.

Despite being just 21 himself, O’Donnell was the most senior Town player on the pitch, only behind trialist Aan Verma, 26, in age.

He said: “It was strange as I’m still only 21 and I was the oldest player on the pitch at the start.

“Last year was good for me, very good at the start of the season, so it’s platform for the younger lads to see what they can do if they work hard.

“Games like this can show Terry Harris and Haks (Hakan Hayrettin) what you can do and they relay that back to the manager.”

On the game itself, O’Donnell felt it was a great chance for youngsters like Brett Longden, Ian Rees and goalscorer Zane Banton to earn vital experience in senior football.

He continued: “It’s a good learning curve for the young lads at this level of football.

“Especially non league, you’re going to get tackles, going to get big brutes looking to put challenges in.

“They have to learn to look after themselves at this level and it’s a case of being mature about it, not letting yourself get hurt and being clever.

“When senior players play against young lads they’re going to try and get in their heads, try to derail the way you play.

“We stuck at it though. The lads looked after themselves second half and we’ve come away as penalty winners.”

With Town fielding three trialists, O’Donnell admitted it can be difficult out on the pitch, having never seen the new faces before.

He added: “The lads have turned up, we’ve met in the changing rooms, and it can be hard as a trialist. I’ve been in the position before when you come in and don’t know anyone’s name.

“You don’t know how anybody plays, but a few of them did themselves justice.”

O’Donnell recently returned from Portugal with the rest of the Town squad and on Luton’s trip abroad, he added: “It was a good base for us.

“Training in heat is always harder, we were up 9am in the morning doing running sessions and then football in the afternoon.

“It was very difficult, especially on your legs. You do get tired and a lot of lads were having a nap in afternoon and early to bed.

“It puts us in good stead for the season though and was definitely the toughest one I’ve done.”

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